Last night I watched the returns with karindira and some of her friends and family. Even going into the evening, I didn’t trust in the outcome. I agree with statements that the election was Obama’s to lose, but there were so many ways to lose it. The Bradley effect is very real, voting manipulation (per Ohio 2004 and Florida 2000) is very real, GOP voter suppression efforts have been quite effective historically (though apparently not this time), anything like a close vote would have gone to an even more conservative than 2000 Supreme Court, Bush v. Gore style; plus, as always, the marrow-deep ability of Democrats to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory as they have time and again
Obama pulled it off. A black man won, in places like Virginia and Florida. He won big, much bigger than Bush’s “mandate” re-election of 2004. He won big enough to trump cynical legal strategies and smokescreen rhetoric about voter registration fraud. And he did it not by being black, or being clever, or being meaner, or being anything but an excellent candidate. The best candidate won.
And his acceptance speech, afterward. I’ll give big props to McCain for his concession prior to Obama coming out. It’s the first time in years I’ve seen McCain be neither smug nor angry, and he genuinely seemed to accept Obama’s victory in a gracious and patriotic manner. (Something which had quite frankly worried me a lot.) He lofted the rhetorical ball for Obama to spike it over the net with an acceptance speech which will quite likely become the defining political moment of this decade.
What does an Obama presidency mean? Hell if I know. And frankly, I don’t care so much right now. For the first time in years, America voted for hope instead of fear, for an outward face instead of a turning in, for change instead of stasis, for anticipation instead of nostalgia, for acceptance instead of rejection, for openness instead of resentment, for engagement instead of isolation.
We voted, and we voted big, for the future, instead of another encystment in the bitterness of past wars and spent ideologies.
I don’t know what Obama’s presidency means, but for the first time in my life, I trust a president.
Plus, a few bonus links in this vein:
Truman Defeats Dewey — Scrivener’s Error on the election, with a take I agree with.
Reality Check — Scalzi on the election. Better put than I would have.
What’s with all the ideology? — Freakonomics responds to an Australian reader’s question about American political extremism.
Diagnosing Sarah Palin — One last shot at a seriously unlamented political figure. Though I’m fairly certain she’ll be back in a big way. (Nicked from a locked post on my flist.)